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Strengthening the value chain: “innovative renewables” in the Spotlight.


Strengthening the value chain: “innovative renewables” in the Spotlight.

This March, the European Union announced the Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA) as a set of measures to strengthen Europe’s net-zero technology products manufacturing system. It followed the approval of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), which contained a binding EU target to increase the share of renewables in the EU’s final energy consumption to 42.5% (and a non-binding target to reach 45%) by 2030.

Source: EUREC

Strengthening the value chain: “innovative renewables” in the Spotlight

Vitally, the RED also set a non-binding target for 5% of all new renewable energy capacity to be installed by 2030 to be of innovative renewable energy technology. This could amount to several tens of gigawatts of innovative renewable energy capacity by 2030, thereby providing market pull for the manufacturing facilities that NZIA wants to be built.

However, it is imperative that the NZIA follows this path to support the entire value chain and backs the development of innovative renewables, therefore developing European renewables further and bringing new high-performance technologies to market.

The Commission wrote in 2020 that there was a “severe lack of national objectives and funding targets” for research, innovation, and competitiveness in National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs). RED and the NZIA can help correct this omission, creating stability and security in the energy supply in the medium term and increasing industrial strength. 

EU policy attention to the manufacture of renewable energy technology

The European Commission’s proposal for NZIA puts forward measures by which Europe may reclaim a part of the manufacturing market and decarbonize industry. Some of its most substantive measures relate to “Access to markets”.

The Commission wants public procurement procedures and tenders for renewable energy capacity to be awarded (in part) on “non-price criteria” related to the technology’s environmental profile, its contribution to supply chain resilience or to energy system integration.

But a technology’s “innovative” character can reside in other areas, too, like higher efficiency or higher productivity. The selection criteria should therefore give points for technology having such characteristics. If they did, NZIA would better support the RED 5% target for innovative technology. 

Mapping a way forward

RED and NZIA can work together to achieve Europe’s net zero energy goals. With the RED’s non-binding target on innovative renewables, Member States should put in place new measures to help manufacturers and installers take a chance on new, unproven high-performance technology.

Accordingly, NZIA can create regulatory measures and funding mechanisms so that these technologies have market access. Some of NZIA’s measures will certainly help in this regard: regulatory sandboxes for deployments of all the main families of innovative renewable energy technology and “sustainability and resilience” award criteria in public procurements of energy from renewable energy sources.

EUREC, the Association of European Renewable Energy Research Centres, coordinates two European Masters in Renewable Energy and Sustainable Energy Systems Management and is one of the coordinators of the new Renewable Energy Skills Partnership. We look forward to linking our programs to the “Net-Zero Academies” proposed in NZIA to meet the need for highly skilled workers in the renewable energy sectors. EUREC also participates in numerous European co-funded projects centered on renewable technologies. These technologies revolve around a wide array of technologies (wind, biomass, small hydro, marine, geothermal, photovoltaics, solar thermal electricity, and solar thermal heating and cooling).


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